Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Safety Gaps Found In Adventure Tourism Review

Media outlets are reporting on the  long awaited release of the Adventure Tourism safety review.

The review was instigated after the father of drowned river boarding tourist Emily Jordan wrote to John Key calling safety regulation in New Zealand “third world.”

The two main outcomes are that there are recommendations that adventure tourism Operators be registered (which stops short of a licensing system) and that  “most” be audited in order to remain on the register.

But even that is by no means a done deal because the report’s recommendations offer up a get-out-of- jail-card :-  a “quality mark” as an alternative to a full-blown and regulated registration scheme.
John Hartevelt wrote for Fairfax (emphasis ours):
A review of adventure tourism operators has found gaps in safety that risk more accidents and damage to New Zealand’s $3 billion adventure tourism industry.
The Government has announced it will set up a compulsory register and demand safety checks for operators to stay on the register…is no fundamental issue stopping operators from developing safety systems…
(the review) found there were gaps that allowed some to operate with less than acceptable safety standards. “While these gaps remain there is insufficient assurance that preventable accidents will not occur,” the review says.
“This situation could result in harm to individuals and their families and damage to New Zealand’s reputation as an international visitor destination.” Safety systems were “still developing” because the sector had grown quickly to a significant size.”
The report goes on to state that
The scheme should require “up-front and ongoing” external safety audits.
“This would go a considerable way towards providing assurance that activities are being managed safely,” the review said.
Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said the Government had accepted the recommendation and a registration scheme would be set up. Most operators would become subject to safety audits once the scheme was in place…read the full report here
It may come as a surprise to some to hear that operators weren’t being subject to safety audits before the review took place. Perhaps if they had been a number of tragic deaths, including that of Emily Jordan, may have been avoided.

The Herald put a figure on the cost of auditing, which is risk weighted, that is going to come as a shock to many small operators. In our opinion this is likely to cause most operators to protest against the recommendations and put pressure on the government to adopt a quality mark for the industry:
The cost of an initial audit would depend on the risk. Medium risk would be $1000, and high risk would be $2200. The audits would be repeated periodically, and subsequent ones would be half the price of the initial audit.
There are no costings for repeating a failed audit and there are some recommendations that have not been reported on by the press.

The report made a number of recommendations to the Minister of Labour. Those included:
  • Note that the adventure and outdoor commercial sector has grown quickly to a significant size, is innovative and dynamic, and its safety management systems reflect that quick growth and are still developing
  • Note that the review found assurance and information gaps in the safety management framework that applies to the sectors.
  • Addressing assurance gaps -  Agree to introduce a registration scheme for the adventure and outdoor commercial sectors with a requirement for up-front and ongoing external safety audits of operators’ safety management provisions (to a level commensurate with the risk) and an obligation on operators to keep their registration up-to-date
  • Agree to partner with an industry-led entity to strengthen the safety management framework for the sectors
  • Agree to the development of a practice guide for the sector
  • Agree to an evaluation of the voluntary safety auditing schemes for adventure and outdoor commercial sector operations to ensure they are fit for purpose
  • Agree to investigate the development of a register of government-accredited adventure tourism-related safety auditing schemes
  • Note that agencies will clarify which government agency is responsible for which activities in the adventure and outdoor commercial sector
  • Note that the Department of Labour will ensure that when the review of the Machinery Act and Amusement Devices Regulations occurs, that it carefully considers the adequacy of the Act and Regulations for the adventure and outdoor commercial sectors
  • Agree to better inform operators about their current responsibilities
  • Agree to further work being undertaken to determine whether instructors and guides should be required to hold qualifications and work only within the scope of their qualifications for some activities
  • Addressing information gaps – Agree to work being undertaken to collect better and more consistent information on the sector and to improve its collation
  • Further worthwhile initiatives – Note that if the proposed registration scheme is not approved, the Department of Labour will undertake further work to consider the value of educating consumers to look for a safety mark from an accredited safety auditing scheme when selecting an adventure or outdoor commercial sector provider
  • Agree to further work being undertaken regarding a requirement for operators to have a satisfactory safety audit in order to receive any taxpayer-funded promotional benefits, (such as inclusion through i-Site stands, Tourism New Zealand)
  • Direct the Department of Labour to undertake further work with other agencies as applicable in order to consider the appropriateness of the following initiatives:
  • A. Expanding the rules-based approach taken under the Maritime Transport Act and the Civil Aviation Act for possible application to other adventure based activities
  • B. Linking ACC payments to evidence of audited safety management plans
  • C. Increasing the level of inspection under the HSE Act
  • Agree to investigate if New Zealand should be represented on the International Organisation for Standardisation’s TC 228 Working Group for Adventure Tourism*
  • Agree to the Department of Labour scoping the development of guidance on land owners’ and land managers’ safety-related responsibilities when they grant permission for adventure and outdoor commercial sector activities to operate on land that they own or manage
  • General – Note that Cabinet has approved the development of aviation rules for commercial adventure aviation and new maritime rules for commercial jet boating and rafting to improve the safety regulatory framework for these activities, and that this work is well advanced
  • Note that the proposed rules for adventure aviation activities and commercial jet boating and rafting being developed for the Minister of Transport will adequately address the current deficiencies in the safety regulatory framework applicable to those parts of the adventure and outdoor commercial sector
  • Agree to the Department of Labour undertaking further work on the funding and institutional arrangements to deliver the key recommendations in this paper, with a particular focus on the appropriateness of industry-government shared models
  • Note that the Department of Labour will assist, coordinate or initiate any further implementation issues arising from this report.
* The ISO TC 228 working group - exists to ensure the “Standardization of the terminology and specifications of the services offered by tourism service providers, including related activities, touristic destinations and the requirements of facilities and equipment used by them, to provide tourism buyers, providers and consumers with criteria for making informed decisions.”

53 countries participate in that group including Australia, Cuba, India, Germany Thailand and the UK. 17 other countries observe it. New Zealand, along with El Salavdor and Zimbabwe, is only an observer. Click here for a list of the TC 228 standards for tourism and related services.

How many of the recommendations will be acted upon remains to be seen but any deaths or serious injuries that occur in the meantime, and which can be attributed to not following these recommendations, will be on the heads of those who tarry.

Meanwhile, the family of Emily Jordan awaits the start of an inquest into her death.

In an interview with Scene, “The free voice of Queenstown”  Chris Jordan said he will push for an inquest into his daughter’s death to be held in the UK if one isn’t held in NZ. He said that he was disappointed to still be waiting to hear if one will be held and that the situation was “bizarre”.

Mr. Jordan wrote in a letter to Mr Key that he had spent 16 months investigating the way that extreme sports firms are regulated in New Zealand and was “appalled” at what he had found, he called for safety regulation of the industry, saying:
It is vital that more young people do not die in this way. It is a tragic, unnecessary waste and they leave many grieving people behind for whom life is forever changed. This situation is damaging New Zealand’s reputation worldwide...”
“The laws in place at the moment aren’t the right vehicle to be regulating this sort of activity and they are not being regulated in any case,” he said. “People are going to New Zealand and expecting that it will be regulated like a western country but that really isn’t the case.
There needs to be high quality and up-front checks on firms like this, but instead authorities only react when there is an incident.”
Adventure Tourism in New Zealand

See also:
NZ Facts and Stats, Adventure tourism and safety
UK families form group to push for tougher extreme sports standards in New Zealand – families call for licensing system in New Zealand.
Posts tagged Emily Jordan

Today's posts - click here

Havelock North Armed Robbery Impacts On Family

The Dom Post has today reported on the robbery of another small business in New Zealand, this time a dairy (NZ vernacular for a small convenience store) in the small town of Havelock North.

The report in itself is surprising given that there are restrictions on crime reports that are released to the press.

It tells of the terror an immigrant family faced when trying to run a small business in small town New Zealand. Their story must be similar to that of many other dairy owners, for whom the death of Navtej Singh who died in his store when he was shot in the chest with a rifle,  must be still prominent in their minds, and it demonstrates how acts of robbery impact on migrant families who come to New Zealand looking for better lives.

Four men came into the family's Middle Road Dairy on Sunday afternoon and held a rifle to Mr Ramjit Ramjit as they robbed his store,  metres away from where his wife was preparing the family's evening meal. The Dom Post said:
Mr Ramjit said the experience was terrifying, particularly as most of his family were in the rear of the dairy in Middle Rd, Havelock North, where they lived. His 10-year-old son was due to walk through the front door of the shop at any minute...
But this wasn't an isolated incident by any means, Mr Ramjit's only staff member was held up at gunpoint in the town last year and is still traumatised by that event. According to the Dom Post.
Mr Ramjit said he would not consider changing occupations, but his sole staff member was not so sure. John Booth sold his own dairy in Havelock North last year after being held up at gunpoint in April. He and his mother and aunt were in his Lipscombe Cres dairy when a man with a pistol burst in and took cash.
Mr Booth said his decision to sell the business was directly related to the robbery. "It was just too scary." Though he had not been in the dairy on Sunday, the robbery had frightened him all over again.
"I was just starting to come right. Now I'm very nervous again." Read the full report here
We checked our list and found just two other aggravated robberies in small businesses in the town that had been reported on by the media since 2009. There is the hold-up at Lipscombe Dairy on 2 April, in which the accused had been bailed and had then crashed his vehicle. The other was at the Video Ezy on 10 March this year when a man threatened staff with a spanner before stealing cash.

Coincidentally, Havleock North was one of four regions in New Zealand included in an Victoria University Study - "Not in my backyard? Crime in the Neighbourhood

The study showed that although >80% of people thought crime was a problem in New Zealand  63.2 per cent of them believed it was a problem only in other areas. Given the rising crime figures in New Zealand, which includes the fifth highest murder rate in the OECD and the overall rise in total offences in the Hastings area, that raises some questions as to the accuracy of crime reporting by the media and how much the public's perception's of crime can be influenced by news reporting.

Recorded crime in the area, 2008 & 2009
Read also
No Crime in Gisborne, It's Official - Updates - "GISBORNE police have decided to restrict the information on crime they provide to media in a move to “make the community feel safer”. Up until now, The Gisborne Herald has been given detailed reports of crimes attended by police, including burglaries, domestic violence and the arrests that make up our daily “Police briefs”. But earlier this week area commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said comprehensive information would no longer be provided. He saw no benefit in “reporting all and sundry”…read the whole article here

Under reporting of crime to the mediait took a year before the news of the second robbery of Navtej Singh’s shop got out.

Yin Ping Yang’s Murderer Was A Serial Home Invader; NZ Crime Compared To Oakland, US And South Africa - " Last month, Joanne Wang, 39, was killed in a hit and run after her handbag was snatched; Yang Yin Ping, 80, was fatally attacked in her Manurewa home; and Navtej Singh, 30, was shot during a robbery of his liquor store. All the victims were Asian...Businessman Charles Kang, a trade consultant originally from Singapore, said many of his overseas clients have raised concerns over safety issues over doing business in New Zealand.
One compared New Zealand to South Africa, and another said Auckland was fast becoming for us what Oakland is to America,” said Mr Kang. “Many expressed surprise at the level of crime we experience here, because New Zealand has a reputation as being a safe country.

Police Minister infuriated at newspaper’s test of security at Super 14s match – reporters testing security at a rugby match weren’t pretending to be terrorists.

It’s official: Politicians can’t take a joke - “MPs may make fools of themselves from time to time but they want to ban others from doing it. Satire, ridicule and denigration of MPs using any television footage shot from parliamentary galleries is to be banned under rules proposed by the standing orders committee. The move on freedom of expression is not the only controversy the rules have caused. They also create anomalies between what television cameras can show and what newspapers photographers are allowed to show, giving television the advantage…”

Today's posts - click here

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rotorua Stabbing "Indicative" Of Youth Issues In City

On Friday night a 16 year old youth died on the driveway of a property on Clinkard Avenue Rotorua, he'd been stabbed to death and a 15 year old has been arrested in connection with his death.

A passerby stopped to give assistance to the injured boy as he lay dying, he gave a traumatic account of the events of that night to the NZ Herald, saying that a group of teenagers had been drinking on the property were he found the youth.

A report of the killing was written up by the Herald,  that included the statement
"community leaders called for the Government to tackle youth and alcohol problems in the city." Read the full article HERE
If the community of Rotorua can't manage youth and alcohol problems in its own city what chance does the government stand, is this just case of buck passing? How is the government going to prevent teen parties or youth binge drinking anyway?

The Herald tells its readers
"Last month 11 teens were lucky to survive a van smash. In March, police intercepted a group of youths armed with a knife, wheelbrace and an iron bar on their way to attack students from another school."
School invasions aren't unique to Rotorua, that happens all over the country.

District councillor Charles Sturt opined that the killing was "indicative" of youth issues in the city and that people needed to face up to that:
"We've got people that talk up that we haven't got any issues in Rotorua. But there are specific issues that need addressing and we need some strategies in place to fix those problems,"
Again, that strange disconnect between facts and reality - don't talk about, or acknowledge there's a problem, and it doesn't exist. Rather like the good people of Gisborne that have been spared the pain of knowing about crime in their community because police decided to be selective with what they released to the press? See No Crime in Gisborne, It's Official

Our regular readers may remember that Rotorua may also have the same issues as Gisborne does with the selective release of crime information to the media. . Gisborne's new station supervisor Detective Sergeant Mick Lander, introduced a similar policy in Rotorua where he had moved from. See Crime? What Crime? in the Gisborne Herald

The Herald adds
Deputy Mayor Trevor Maxwell was shocked when told about the death.
"I'm horrified. It's awful. We're still trying to work through all the issues from things like Nia Glassie."
And councillor Geoff Kenny said it was a "terrible tragedy. It's another example of young people not knowing the consequences of their actions."
Nia Glassie wasn't a "thing" she was a three year old Maori girl that was tortured and abused to death by her family in Rotorua, she eventually died from brain injuries. She'd
"been kicked, beaten, slapped, jumped on, held over a burning fire, had wrestling moves copied from a computer game practised on her, placed into a clothes dryer spinning at top heat for up to 30 minutes, folded into a sofa and sat on, shoved into piles of rubbish, dragged through a sandpit half-naked, flung against a wall, dropped from a height onto the floor, and whirled rapidly on an outdoor rotary clothes line until thrown off."
...Nia's abuse became the subject of various campaigns against violence and cruelty to children in New Zealand. Prime Minister Helen Clark said she could not believe that a child could suffer like that without anybody knowing about it and encouraged New Zealanders to report child abuse.
In fact many in the community blame the culture of "not wanting to nark" or inform the police of domestic violence matters as one of the prime contributors to Nia's death. For example, one of the prosecution witnesses Rawhiti Simiona, a neighbour to the house where Nia suffered, told New Zealand television he regretted not calling the police when he saw the toddler being swung on the clothes line. Source
Well there's no way any government can legislate against callous disregard, or pig headed stupidity.
It takes the village to raise the child and the New Zealand village failed little Nia, the child who died on Friday night and the child who stabbed him, just like it's failing countless others like them every day, no amount of avoiding the issues behind that is going to change it.

You may also be interested in
Other posts tagged Great Place to Raise Kids
NZ A Great Place to Raise Kids? Porirua’s Midnight Express
NZ Teachers Need More Power to Protect Themselves
Two More Teachers Assaulted In Tauranga
Bullying to Blame For Te Puke Teacher Stabbing
Kids in New Zealand – The Village Lets Them Down
“Poor” NZ Among Lowest In OECD For Education Spending
NZ Scores Second Worst in the World For Bullying in Schools

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